Once Upon A Time...

Saturday, 05 September 2015 00:00

     So once upon a time…no, wait.  That’s how you begin a fairy tale, and this is definitely not a fairy tale.  It is, however, from a time long ago.   And as I age, life has taught me a much deeper understanding of what was said on that day than any I could muster at that time, because I was young.  You know, like, 16—on the fault line between boyhood and being a man.  One moment I was preoccupied with how to get my first date with a girl, and the next all I could think about was how I’d get my next buck to buy a model airplane kit. 
     It was a bitterly cold winter day in December, 1969—one of those days between Christmas and the New Year, when nothing much is supposed to happen.  There’s that whole let-down thing to deal with after Christmas, because all those presents that you’d just spent months dreaming about weren’t nearly as much fun as you imagined they would be once you had them.  For you see, at that tender age, I had not yet discerned that it is a peculiarity of the human psyche that it is the wanting, not the having, that sharpens our senses and creates the yearning that is the best part of life.

Chief Duck

Monday, 10 August 2015 00:00

     Just how long a shadow does an evil act cast in time, if any?  I am not sure of the answer.  Is it like what Faulkner said, that “the past isn’t dead, it isn’t even past?”  Or is the situation more neatly summed up by the epitaph on the gravestone of John Keats: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water?”  Such thoughts worry my mind like troubled mice as I look at the photograph of the statue of Chief Duck.
     The statue is easily missed as one cruises up Highway 51 north of Jackson, Mississippi—perhaps at the southern limits of what might be considered “Faulkner Country.”  The statue is located in the town of Duck Hill…nowadays a quiet, sleepy little place, home to some 732 residents in the 2010 census.  I don’t even recollect that there was a stoplight to slow one’s progress, heading up northward to bigger towns like Grenada.


Monday, 10 August 2015 00:00

     The experience of some of the most precious moments in life is like that of perceiving a mote floating upon the air, grabbing it, and opening one’s hand slowly to find nothing—as if it had never existed.
     It was years ago…the name of the place was Daylight Donuts, located in the town of Taos, New Mexico.  Taos is over 7000 feet up in the Rocky Mountains.  The famous mountain man, Kit Carson, lived there at one time, and the first American governor of the New Mexico Territory, Charles Bent, was killed (I’m talking arrows shot into his face—pretty much maximum hostility) by an angry mob of locals in 1847.  It seems that strangers, especially Anglos, were not always welcome in these parts.

The Voice of the Lord

Monday, 30 March 2015 00:00

I moved to Clarksdale seven years ago. My mother lives here, but I grew up in Kansas City and was still livin' there. I'm a preacher, and one day, I was walking down the street.
    I heard the voice of The Lord.
    I heard it in my chest, but it was his actual voice, just like you and I are speakin' right now. He told me that I was to move here to Clarksdale. I remember thinkin' that I didn't want to move, and so I said to The Lord, 'why are you tellin' me to do this?' The Lord then said to me that every time I had asked him for somethin', he had given it to me. Now it was my turn to give something back to him.

The Kama Sutra at 37,000 Feet

Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:00

We were flying west to San Diego, and as I looked down upon our world from my little window, perched at 37,000 feet, I thought about what a dandy little planet that we had been given. To the north I could see White Sands shimmering through the blue haze. Just a few miles north of there would be an innocuous little 12-foot high stone marker at the Trinity Site. There, the first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 at 05:29:21 ± 2 seconds (MWT). Robert Oppenheimer, a key figure in the development of the bomb, has been quoted as saying that as he witnessed the explosion, he thought of a quote from the ancient Bhagavad Gita. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Hmmm.
    “I’m going to see my EX-boyfriend in San Diego” she had announced to no one in particular as she sat down next to me at the beginning of the flight. She had emphasized the “EX” by prolonging those two letters by just a beat or two with a faint, but sweet, Southern drawl. She was pretty, but overdone. Long red fingernails, a perfectly coiffed helmet of hair, fake eyelashes, and lots, I mean lots, of cleavage. You know…friendly.

The Unscheduled Epiphany

Thursday, 07 May 2015 00:00

Okay, okay—let’s get this straight from the start.  If you’re reading this expecting another one of those rapturous going-down-the-tunnel-wait, wait-don’t-walk-toward-the-light kind of stories about a brush with death—forget it.  Ain’t happening.  Maybe I wasn’t dead enough.  Maybe dying brains conjure hallucinatory experiences, and mine is just so anchored in this reality that it wouldn’t take me there.  I will never know until I do this again, and when that moment comes, it’s very unlikely that I will be interested in having this discussion with you.